Blog - Category: Campus Life
Originally posted at: https://www.alma.edu/live/profiles/8705-five-tips-for-an-epic-first-year
From taking notes to living away from home, your first year of college will go smoother if you know what to expect. Rely on current and recent students to offer the best advice.
Every college student has concerns or challenges during their first year. While some end up being no big deal, others may require some major changes. Liney Figueroa of Muskegon, now a senior at Alma College, offered these tips to students who are just starting out:
Try to have perfect attendance in your classes
There may be things that come up that make this impossible. But as far as a goal goes: go big or go home, right? Studies show that students who go to class and take notes do the best, regardless of how “smart” they might be. Plan your class schedule in a way that works best for you and pay attention to yourself more than anyone else. Liney uses a planner and charts every day out the night before, to make sure she’s prepared for whatever comes.
Take notes the old-fashioned way
I’m not going to tell you to never use your phone. More than likely, you know there’s a time and a place when it’s appropriate to use it and when it’s inappropriate — like, during a lecture. Consider using a pen and paper to write notes in class, instead of a laptop. Studies show you’ll remember more that way. You can always copy your notes to your laptop after class.
Meet with each of your professors for office hours at least once every term
Professors are required to set aside office hours, which are special days and times to meet with students in a 1-on-1 setting. You can usually find this information in the course syllabus you received at the start of the term. Your professors can help in all kinds of ways, in and out of the classroom — from going over coursework in a private environment, to discussing college life, to figuring out life after college. More importantly, your professors WANT to help — so help them, and take that first step toward getting to know them better.
Ask for help when you need it
The difference between “high school you” and “college you” is that you’ll be the main person in your life who deals with your problems. Even as a high achiever in high school, Liney found that college was more challenging. She wasn’t used to asking for help for her classwork, but eventually came around to the idea that she couldn’t deal with everything by herself. Ask around and seek out the BEST person to help you with your individual problem. For example: a resident assistant can help with issues in your residence hall, an academic advisor can help choose your major and a health professional can help with anxiety.
Join at least one extracurricular activity
So far, we’ve mostly focused on academics — with good reason, because doing well in your courses is the best way to have success after you graduate. But using your time away from class in constructive ways is also important. Joining an extracurricular activity gives you an easy way to meet other college students who are going through the same things you are. Liney said coming to college seemed intimidating at first, until she started getting more involved in student affairs. There, she said, she found fun things to do in her free time and made friends for life.
Michigan Colleges Alliance Bonus Tip: Be Different.
Consider Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges and universities, where students forge success by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds.
Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility, split-second decision-making – these are some of the skills it takes to succeed in one of the fastest growing athletic programs in the country – esports.
Esports is a massive, global series of video game competitions, that is making serious inroads in the college sports arena.
The Aquinas College esports team just completed its first season and already one team member is making waves. Jon Schneck, an AQ freshman, was named an All-American by the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors (NAECD)—one of only eight in the country.
“It was a little bit of a surprise that I would be an All-American because I don’t think of myself that highly,” Schneck said. “But it is great that I got recognized.”
Jon may have been caught off guard by the recognition, but head coach Adam Antor says it is well deserved because of his hard work and knowledge.
“He is kind of like the master knowledge base for the game,” Antor said of Schneck. “He knows more about the game than most other competitors in our program and across the country so he brings the brains and the work ethic.”
Jon competes in League of Legends. It’s a game he said he’s been playing since before he got to Aquinas. Next season, Jon plans to continue his streak. “I am looking forward to just winning in any league I’m going into,” Schneck said. “Building a better team and making sure that we can compete at the highest level against all the other teams.”
Aquinas, Alma and Siena Heights – and all of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities – share a commitment to helping students succeed by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
It’s National Mascot Day, where we celebrate the fun, sometimes feathery or furry creatures who entertain us and build team spirit at sporting events.
Lists of top college mascots often begin and end with big public universities (Hello Puddles the Oregon Duck), sometimes with a few curveballs thrown in (pleased to meet you, Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes.)
But it’s not just big public universities that have fun with their sports and mascots. They’re just as beloved at independent colleges and universities as well. Let’s meet some Michigan favorites:
Dutch from Hope College
Ruggedly handsome. And what a hat! The mucho macho mascot of Hope College was created during the 2006-07 academic year for the school. Fun fact: His face is loosely modeled after a mailroom employee, Bob Bos. Founded by immigrants from the Netherlands, Hope College became known as the Flying Dutchmen since 1959 when its basketball team took a DC3 to a tournament. The women’s teams are known as the Flying Dutch. Of course.
Tommy Titan from the University of Detroit Mercy
Ever try running 3.1 miles in a warrior helmet and bracelets? It’s not easy. But it’s nothing for Tommy Titan, the beloved mascot from the University of Detroit Mercy who for 28 years has had a 5K run named in his honor every November. Top that off with all the excitement of representing #DetroitsCollegeTeam, and life is pretty good for Tommy Titan.
Calvin Knight from Calvin University
He stands for chivalry, honor and integrity. Sure. That’s true now. But he originally stood for misunderstanding. Calvin University’s mascot, the Knights, emerged in the late 1920s when a reporter from the Grand Rapids Press heard the school was populated by “Calvinites.” Ugh. Bad pun. We know. Like their counterparts at Hope, Calvin students wanted a real mascot and got one after a Facebook campaign began in the mid-2000s. Calvin Knight debuted in February 2009.
Brit the Briton from Albion College
Albion College debuted this rugged fellow in the fall of 2011. The first mascot in 176 years at Albion, he was chosen, because he represents the college’s “longstanding tradition of dignity, discovery and professionalism.” He also looks smashing. Brit looks like he and Tommy Titan would be a formidable duo at tug o’ war.
Scotty from Alma College
He’s got a mustache that would make Yosemite Sam jealous and Scotty from Alma College is a whole lot easier to cheer for than the “Fighting Presbyterians.” It sounds like a joke, but that was Alma’s mascot until 1931. Hard to believe as it was, but students tired of shouting, “Go Fighting Presbyterians” at football games and the student newspaper launched a three-week contest for a replacement. The winner got $5. Cold hard cash. A few years ago, Scotty got a makeover before homecoming. He’s never looked better!
Buzz the Hornet from Kalamazoo College
Power of the press! Kalamazoo College’s mascot got its name from – you guessed it – a newspaper reporter, this time from the Kalamazoo Gazette who said thought the football team was “buzzing around enthusiastically and stinging the opponents.” A mascot was born in 1925. Before then, athletic teams were occasionally called the Orange and Black, or even the Kazooks!
Charger from Hillsdale College
Hillsdale College students got tired of lacking a true mascot about 10 years ago and chose a horse over contenders such as a lightning bolt to represent their nickname, the Chargers.
Bruiser the Bulldog from Adrian College
There are 36 colleges across the nation who have a Bulldog as their mascot and 16 of those schools have live mascots. But not many mascots can say they have a mascot. Bruiser the Bulldog can. Adrian College‘s adorable pup Bruiser soaks up the limelight and tummy rubs at campus events, hockey games and football games. But when the big dog on campus needs a break, a giant foam Bruiser mascot costume springs into action.
Over the years, Olivet College has had several unofficial mascots including a number of dogs and even a sheep. But in 1932, students and faculty were invited to submit names that signified action, speed and mobility – with the eventual winner being the Comets. Clyde the Comet has long been the Olivet mascot; but in 2018, Olivet introduced the first female mascot to ever represent the school – Haley.
Halo the Husky from Siena Heights University
In 2008, Siena Heights University decided it needed a mascot. The school is known as the Saints. But that didn’t seem so fierce. So students voted on an alternative and came up with Halo the Husky, in part to thumb their nose at the Bulldogs of Adrian College, their cross-town rivals. “It’s kind of a shot at Adrian College, the bulldogs, because huskies are stronger and faster,” the student who submitted the winning suggestion said.
That’s just a start of the differences between big public institutions and Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges and universities, where students forge success by following their own path. The colleges are smaller and emphasize community over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.
Experience is everything. And Alma College is committed to making sure you have an opportunity to put what you learn in the classroom to work in a meaningful way. The College’s Center for Student Opportunity is committed to providing support services and access to practical experiences that enhance your education. In fact, the Alma Venture gives you the financial support to not just study your field, but experience it firsthand. As part of the Alma Commitment, the Alma Venture program provides up to $2,500 to offset the cost of your personalized experience.
Where will you Venture?
Your Alma Venture could take place on campus, or on the other side of the world. It could be credit-bearing—or not. The opportunities are endless!
You could travel abroad for an off-campus study program, see what it’s really like to work in your field through an internship, delve deep into a research project or, get hands-on clinical experience. Alma offers other experiential learning possibilities for students interested in leadership and service.
- See examples of the types of Alma Venture experiences you can pursue.
- View an overview of past experiences by academic area.
- Consider which type of experience is right for you and find YOUR Alma Venture.
The Alma Venture is another example of Alma College’s unwavering commitment to the success of their students and graduates. It’s the reason that Plaid Works!
On July 10, 2019, Calvin College officially becomes Calvin University. The date coincides with Reformer John Calvin’s birthday, for whom the institution was named at its founding in 1876. The Calvin community will commemorate the significant milestone with a series of events, including a panel discussion, dedication service, and celebration cookout. View the full lineup of events.
“This is an exciting time in Calvin’s history,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University. “This change to university grants us permission to think and dream and hope and aspire to a great deal more as we engage with more learners around the world.”
What began nearly 150 years ago in a single classroom on Williams Street in downtown Grand Rapids, with one faculty member, one academic discipline, and just seven students, is now a university sprawled out over a 400-acre campus, offering more than 100 academic options to 3,700 students each year from more than 65 countries. It’s an institution of 250 Christ-centered faculty who are thought leaders in their fields. And, it includes an alumni network of more than 65,000 who are expressing Calvin’s mission to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.
“The college or university takes different forms over time, serves different populations over time in history. But that mission critically endures,” said Le Roy.
Extending reach, deepening roots
In becoming a university, and as part of Vision 2030, Calvin is aspiring to extend its reach and deepen its roots by expanding its global influence, growing as a trusted partner for learning, and deepening its commitment to the Reformed Christian faith.
“We have a distinctive and enduring Christian mission that we are excited to share with more people around the corner and across the globe,” said Craig Lubben, chair of the Calvin University Board of Trustees. “As we look to the future of Calvin, we are confident that this name change will help us better reflect who we are to audiences both familiar with and new to Calvin and propel us further as we fulfill a compelling vision.”
How Calvin will pursue this vision over the next decade is laid out in the university’s recently approved strategic plan. The plan includes four key goals.
Expanding programs, inviting new learners
First, the university will expand its offerings to undergraduate students and its use of digital systems and platforms to meet the needs of learners of all ages, all over the world; like Calvin’s new Spanish Immersion program, which will serve high school students; adding more graduate programs; and partnering on educational endeavors like the Calvin Prison Initiative in Ionia and the Lumina Partnership in Hong Kong.
“I’d like us to be a place where folks think ‘I wonder what Calvin has to offer in that space?’ And knowing then that it would come from a place that thinks deeply about its work and about how to do these things well,” said Cheryl Brandsen, provost.
Collaborating to create solutions
Second, Calvin will look for more ways to collaborate to enhance learning. Drawing on the strength of its scholarship and its depth of learning, it will direct institutional resources toward opportunities that encourage faculty and students to work across disciplines and with local and global partners in tackling complex issues.
“We need to work effectively with community partners. We need to hear lots of voices that are bringing their expertise, their own experience to the table to figure out how to solve problems,” said Amy Wilstermann, professor of biology.
Creating spaces to thrive
Thirdly, Calvin will invest in its learning environments as it supports a thriving educational community. This includes continuing to update classrooms to meet the needs of current and future learners, designing spaces that spur collaboration and innovation, and creating places like the Commons Union that promote community and support the well-being of people and creation.
“When we create places on campus where we encounter different ideas, different viewpoints, learning that perhaps we’ve never thought about before, that begins to shape not just the way we think, but the way we act and we live into those truths,” said Sarah Visser, vice president for student life.
Deepening Christian commitment
And finally, central to the university’s entire vision is helping faculty, staff, and students more fully embody a faithful and engaged Reformed Christianity.
“The Reformed project invites us to bring our whole selves into this academic institution. There’s no subject that’s off limits, because all knowledge belongs to God,” said Michelle Loyd-Paige, executive associate to the president for diversity and inclusion. “We are called to unpack this knowledge and to use this knowledge to make a difference in the world. Our Reformed faith invites us to do this, our Reformed faith compels us to do this, and our Reformed faith helps us to do this well.”
Learn more about Calvin’s history, the decision for the name change to Calvin University, and about Calvin’s vision for the next decade.
About Calvin University
Founded in 1876, Calvin University is a top-ranked, liberal arts university located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that equips its more than 3,700 students from 45 U.S. states, 65 countries, and five Canadian provinces to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.
Calvin offers 100+ majors and programs, including graduate-level offerings in accounting, education, and speech pathology and audiology. Calvin students engage in intensive internships, community-based service learning, and significant research that results in publishing and presenting alongside world-class faculty.
Calvin also promotes Christian thought and action on an international stage in key areas of education and culture through its 12 centers and institutes. Discover more about Calvin.
According to Olivet College rising senior Rose Kemmerling, the perfect college fit is defined by a homey feeling and awesome supporters. For her, Olivet College fits that description to a T.
Second Family, Second Home
“I would encourage a student to attend Olivet College because it is not just a place, but also embodies a great feeling,” Rose said. “When I come back to campus after summer or Christmas break, I feel like I am at my home-away-from-home. It is hard to explain, but once you are on campus you can feel the family atmosphere and know that it is the place that you should be. The College is more than just the academic buildings, dorm rooms and the KC — it’s the people who become your second family.”
As a biology pre-medical major, member of the volleyball team, President’s Leadership Institute fellow and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Rose’s second family is comprised of her teammates, science professors and classmates.
“My relationships with professors at Olivet have helped shape me into the person I am today. Being a biology major with a pre-med focus, Organic Chemistry was one of the classes I had to take,” Rose explained. “I established a bond with Professor Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., because I was with her four times a week in addition to a lab on Tuesday nights and the extra time I spent in her office hours. I know that her door will always be open and that I can go to her when needed.
“I also know that my coach, Megan Merchant, is someone that I can go to. I have the chance to work with her as both a coach and SAAC faculty adviser, and I know that she wants to see me succeed. My athletic trainer, Kaitlin Sznajder, is someone who I know will always be there to encourage and support me — she was my rock when I got a concussion this season.
“I am lucky to have teammates, friends and a support system all wrapped up into one.”
Rose added that a very special member of her OC family and volleyball team is nine-year-old Lianna Shearer. Liana was recruited to the Comets from Team IMPACT, a nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Lianna attends practices, games, team dinners and other events with the team. More importantly, Rose and the rest of the OC volleyball team are members of Lianna’s support system as she overcomes challenges related to cystic hygroma.
Class of 2020
While Rose’s undergraduate journey at Olivet is nearing its end, she says she’s not done building relationships and using those connections for good. Next up, she’s preparing for further studies that will help her enter the medical field.
“I have always known that I want to do something in the medical field,” Rose said. “This past summer I read an article about genetic counseling, and I knew that this career was perfect for me. Genetic counseling does not only allow me to help others, but it still allows me to be involved in the medical field and solving problems. My goal is to attend a two-year genetic counseling program after graduating from Olivet. I am preparing myself for my future career by shadowing genetic counselors, taking prerequisite courses for my program, adding a psychology minor, participating in crisis volunteering and studying for the GRE.”
With the support of her OC family, Rose has no doubt she’ll be able to achieve her goals.
“My experience as a Comet has helped shape me into the person, student and athlete I am today. I have gained life experiences and learned lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life,” she concluded.
Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or email@example.com.
There is an incredible world out there ready to be explored and experienced for the college student willing and eager to find it. And nothing should stand in their way. The new Albion College Stephen I., ’74, and Susan Brochu Greenhalgh, ’75, Endowed Student Experience Fund will help make that happen. The $250,000 gift will support travel costs for students with financial need who wish to participate in faculty-sponsored academic trips.
“The stigma that attaches to students who can’t go because of financial issues, that bothered me,” said Greenhalgh, a Pontiac native who earned his bachelor’s degrees at Albion in anthropology and sociology, then earned his law degree from Washington & Lee University in Virginia in 1977. “Other students would come back to class and talk about their experiences and there were students who couldn’t go. I thought the stigma was very unfortunate.”
The gift is intended for travel only when a faculty member is present and purely for academic purposes. It should benefit multiple students each year.
Now retired and living in Boulder, Colo., after a career with the Bodman Law Firm in Detroit (where he was a corporate attorney for the Detroit Lions among other clients), Greenhalgh was first intrigued by the idea of helping deserving students on faculty-sponsored travel several years ago after talking with Albion religious studies Professor Jocelyn McWhirter, who for years has sponsored the biennial Holocaust Studies Service-Learning Project trip to Poland.
“There were students who were missing out,” he said.
When McWhirter learned what the Greenhalghs were working on to help these students, she was pleased.
“It broadens their horizons,” she said. “I think these trips take students into an unfamiliar world. And when they enter an unfamiliar world, whether it’s in the U.S. or a destination outside the U.S, I think it gives them a new perspective on the world. It fosters skills of adjusting to another culture, adjusting to how to move within another culture, even learning a strange language. I think in the case of my trip, and other trips, it introduces students to new people and new history.”
And that’s exactly what the Greenhalghs were hoping for with this fund.
“This does two things,” said Greenhalgh, who has also served for 11 years as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. “It helps the faculty and it provides more immediate opportunities for students from less affluent families. And I hope it provides life experiences by going to places like Europe and Africa for students who otherwise might not have that opportunity. It all falls under the rubric of experiential learning, and I believe that experiential learning can make all the difference in a liberal arts education.”
And not only will the new gift sustain current travel projects, it could lead to opportunities for more trips to different areas for more students.
“It’s great for students who don’t have the money,” McWhirter said. “These trips are an experience that can’t be had by staying where you are.”
Hope College ranked 107th out of 601 teams globally, including 26th out of 145 teams from the United States. Most of the teams are from comprehensive or technical universities — first on the list, for example, is the Universitaet Stuttgart in Germany.
“This is momentous for not only our team but also for our school,” said freshman team member Austin Cortes of Gurnee, Illinois. “We are one of two liberal arts colleges in the competition, so we are a true underdog story.”
Looking forward, the team is preparing for this year’s competition at Michigan International Speedway, which will be held on May 8-11 with an estimated 120 teams participating.
Hope first participated in Formula SAE in 2010, competing with more than 100 teams from around the world at MIS. The college returned to MIS in 2016, and also competed at Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2018.
Hope’s team placed 76th out of 102 teams in 2010, winning the William C. Mitchell Rookie Award in 2010 for having achieved the highest overall score among first time teams, and finished 77th out of 115 teams in 2016. Hope also finished 11th in the international Formula SAE Lincoln 2018 competition in Nebraska out of 80 teams. Also in 2018, Hope finished first out of 10 Great Lakes FSAE teams at the 2018 Lawrence Tech Grand Prix, and had the 49th fastest time out of 1,375 entries in the SCCA Solo Nationals autocross held in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item. Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is to provide standards while promoting clever problem solving.
The Formula SAE competition is not just a race. Instead, the teams are evaluated in a series of static and dynamic events, including presentation, design, cost analysis, acceleration, cornering ability, maneuverability and handling, fuel economy and endurance.
The international Formula SAE organization provides a variety of design parameters within which the participants must work, but beyond that the teams make their own decisions. Some of the parts are pre-fabricated, like the 600cc Honda motorcycle engine that provides the power. Others — like the frame itself — have been developed by the group, starting with initial concept, and then moving through design and theoretical testing using the computer and ultimately to fabrication and construction.
Although it may seem that the team would be geared toward engineering majors, the Hope College Formula Racing Team is open to any student and other majors through the years have included communication, business, computer science, exercise science, management and religion.
Aquinas College is launching an esports program in fall 2019, providing students a new opportunity to participate in competitive video gaming. The College will become the fifth institution in Michigan to offer esports at the college level.
“We feel that this is a terrific opportunity for Aquinas College to be on the forefront of the rise of collegiate esports,” said Aquinas Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. “Through comprehensive research, the college felt this was the right time to provide those interested with not only a great academic experience, but the ability to compete in collegiate esports at the next level. We are very excited to begin this endeavor and look forward to what the future holds for esports at Aquinas.”
Aquinas will apply for membership in NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently NACE has more than 125 member schools and more than 2,800 student-athletes.
Ninety-four percent of all varsity esports programs in the United States are members of NACE. Aquinas will join Alma College, Siena Heights University, Davenport University, and Northwood University as Michigan institutions officially recognized by the association.
Esports is one of the newest – and fastest-growing – athletic programs in the country. When NACE was formed in July 2016, only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. Currently, there are more than 125 institutions that sponsor esports.
Esports games rely on real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility and multiplayer online battles. Interest in the sport is on an upward trend. In 2017, the League of Legends World Finals drew 57.6 million online viewers compared to an average of 19.4 million viewers during the NBA finals. Overall, there are 286 million projected esport viewers by 2020.
Aquinas is in the process of hiring a head coach and will begin recruiting a team to compete this fall. Scholarship opportunities will be available.
A new gaming lab on campus will house a practice and competition area. It will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment from iBUYPOWER and furnishings from DXRacer, a Michigan-based company.
Intercollegiate competition will begin in fall 2019 for three games: League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League.
In addition to the new esports program, Aquinas is adding new faculty and programs that will continue to offer students expertise that will prepare them for the future job market. Aquinas is hiring in the Computer Information Systems academic department and has launched a Business Administration/Computer Information System dual major, Business Administration/Economics dual major, and a new Preparing Racially-diverse Educators program.
Aquinas launched its Four-Year Guarantee in the fall, promising that students will graduate in four years or the College will waive any additional tuition expense for up to one additional year for outstanding coursework required to graduate.
(Albion College, voted 12th Most Beautiful College in Winter)
It’s winter, and the tundra is setting in – at least it is here in Michigan. The last thing you are thinking about is planning a trip to visit campuses. Those long walks across snow-covered quads are certainly less appealing when the temperatures are teetering at the same level as the number of layers you’ll be wearing to stay warm. Or maybe you are a freshman or sophomore, and it’s just “not time yet.”
So, “When is the best time to visit?” The answer may not be what you expect. Here are some tips for getting the most out of campus visits:
Time of year:
As summer strolls in and the school year winds down, families across the country are gearing with plans to visit college campuses. Tours are crowded, staff is minimal, and quads are relatively barren. Although the summer months are more convenient for your time, ideally you should try to plan your visits when classes are in session and the campuses are full of life. Think of it like trying on a pair of new shoes: do you get the proper assessment while sitting? No, you get up, walk around, and perhaps jog in them… as it should also be done visiting campuses. Simulate the day-to-day as if you are attending the school. It doesn’t necessarily mean go in the dead of winter, but consider this: it may be cold, but it’ll also be cold while you attend, won’t it?
Age of student:
It can be very rewarding to visit colleges and universities before your junior and senior year (read: before it’s decision time). You are less concerned about choosing and “buying” when you are simply “window shopping” and more interested in checking out the inventory. Expose yourself to as many different kinds of places—big schools, small schools, research universities, liberal arts colleges, urban campuses, places way out in the country—to develop a broad perspective of all the different options. Then, when it is time to make a decision, you’ll have a better foundation on which to choose.
Before stepping foot on the first campus (and each one after that…):
Your new mantra: Relax, enjoy, decide later. Resist the impulse to judge immediately, good or bad. Your first reaction is bound to be emotional, and usually overly positive—college is really cool! Sleep on it. Weigh your impressions against the other schools you visit and try to remain as objective as possible so your rose-colored glasses don’t allow you to overlook things.
How to choose:
As you visit the campuses, allow your senses to guide you. Really like something? Take note of it. Feel like something’s missing? Take note of it. Gut instinct is usually pretty accurate. Additionally, the perceptions from your visits will come in handy when completing your college applications. Remember this: tying personal experience to the campus environment will blow the minds of the admissions department!
What to look for:
Focus on fit. We perform at our best when we have a level of comfort, belonging, and value. Questions to ask yourself: How does the college meet my academic needs? Will I be challenged appropriately? Is the style of instruction a good match for how I learn? Does the college offer a community that makes me feel “at home?” Does the college offer extracurricular activities that interest me?
After the visit, before you leave:
Connect with the recruiter. Colleges and universities typically assign admissions personnel to different areas of the country for recruiting efficiency. If your area’s recruiter is available, definitely introduce yourself. Either way, get that person’s contact information. Consider him/her as your “go to” person when you have important questions later in the admissions process. And remember this: there is nothing insignificant nor too embarrassing to ask. The admissions staff is there to help!
What to do next:
Record your visit. Make notes as soon as you are able. The more campuses you visit, the more they will begin to blend together, especially from memory. Take pictures to give yourself a visual index of what you’ve seen to avoid confusion later.
Enjoy the process. It can be easy to get lost in the excitement and have that energy turn into anxiety. Relax. Start the search early. Visit during the school year to witness the campus’s true environment. Trust your senses and take notes.
As you map your college visit road trip, include a few of Michigan’s top 14 private colleges and universities on your list. These schools are purposefully smaller and emphasize “community over crowds.” Often comparable in cost to Michigan’s public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates, outstanding faculty who help students forge their own paths, and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and personal experience.
Be bold. Be different. Go independent.